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Best Books on Creative Writing

A silhouette centre, with a pen in hand, surrounded by books, the sun in the foreground - representation of best creative writing books

21 January 2024

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Whether you’re an experienced writer or a beginner, there’s always something new to discover about creativity and storytelling. That’s where books on creative writing come in.

Reading books about creative writing is a great way to broaden your knowledge and get insights into both the technical and philosophical sides of story. Plus, they can motivate, inspire and ignite your imagination. 

Here, I’ve curated a list of the best creative writing books that are sure to take your craft to the next level. Covering a diverse range of approaches, from practical guidelines to personal anecdotes from revered authors, these literary gems are clear creativity winners. Let’s dive in!

1

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King

Blending autobiography and writing guide, this book delves into King’s writing journey, revealing his challenges, inspirations and techniques. From focusing on the importance of reading to the art of crafting compelling narratives, ‘On Writing’ is a must-read for both King fans and writers looking to improve their craft.

Stephen King's book On Writing

2

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert

This delightful book is filled with heartfelt anecdotes and personal insights. Gilbert unpacks the concept of creativity throughout, outlining the attitudes, approaches and habits we need to live our most creative lives. The book presents a concept that I still think about regularly: ideas are living entities and choose you to write them.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, book cover

3

zen in the art of Writing

By Ray Bradbury

If you’re an aspiring writer, you’d have heard about the legendary author, Ray Bradbury. Did you know he was a student of Zen? Bradbury found inspiration in Zen philosophy and often incorporated it into his writing, like being present and trusting your intuition. This book is not just about writing, it’s also about unleashing your creativity and imagination

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, book cover

4

Into The Woods

By John Yorke

Yorke explores the creative brilliance behind our favourite fairy tales and how the storytelling structure of these timeless tales can be applied to modern-day writing. The book is a treasure trove of creative insights and an essential read for writers, covering archetypes, character arcs, setting and plot twists.

John Yorke's Into the Woods book cover

5

Wonderbook

By Jeff VanderMeer

This remarkable book is overflowing with creativity and will have you bursting with inspiration in no time. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner in the world of writing, this guide will take you on an artistic journey filled with colourful graphics, practical advice and imaginative storytelling.

Wonderbook book cover

6

The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron

Looking to unleash your creative potential? Or have you been stuck in a creative rut, unable to come up with new ideas? If so, you might want to pick up this iconic book. It’s helped artists tap into their inner creativity and find their unique voice, featuring exercises to overcome creative blocks and morning pages to clear your mind.

The Artist's Way book cover

7

Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg

This book teaches you how to unleash your creativity and let your words flow onto paper, as well as how to overcome writer’s block, find your voice and hone your skills. It will inspire you to cultivate a lifelong habit of writing and let you discover your unique voice. 

Writing Down the Bones book cover

8

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott

This is an excellent resource for any writer looking to enhance their creativity. Lamott encourages writers to focus on writing the first draft and not worry about perfection, take time to observe and embrace one’s unique voice. Ultimately, the book helps you discover the joys of creativity and improve your craft.

Bird by Bird book cover

9

The Art of Fiction

By John Gardner

In The Art of Fiction, Gardner has so much to offer writers, from his creative writing exercises to his advice on character development, authenticity and narration. Gardner encourages you to take risks and explore the many ways that imagination can influence storytelling.

The Art of Fiction book cover

10

Steering the Craft

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Discover how to improve your writing skills by learning from the masterful techniques of one of the greatest science fiction writers, Ursula K. Le Guin. Focusing on structure, language and dialogue, Le Guin offers practical exercises and advice to help writers of all levels achieve their goals.

Steering the Craft book cover

11

The Emotion Thesaurus

By Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

Want something to spark your creativity and accurately portray your characters’ emotions? Good news, there’s a tool that can help: The Emotion Thesaurus. This book provides writers with a comprehensive guide of emotions, body language and sensory cues to help master the art of emotion and bring your characters to life.

Emotion Thesaurus book cover

12

Characters and Viewpoint

By Orson Scott Car

Orson Scott Card, renowned sci-fi and fantasy writer, approaches characters and viewpoints in an interesting way. Rather than building his characters from scratch, Card takes existing archetypes and gives them a unique twist to make them memorable. There’s lots to learn from Orson Scott Card’s creativity. Why not apply it to your own writing?

Characters and viewpoint book cover

13

The Writer's Journey

By Christopher Vogler

This book offers a comprehensive guide for writers looking to tap into their creativity and create stories that are both engaging and impactful. One of Vogler’s central ideas is how every story is essentially a hero’s journey, and he outlines the fundamental elements of a successful narrative. It’s an ideal book for anyone who wants to create a compelling story (that would be all of us, right?).

The Writer's Journey book cover

14

The Anatomy of Story

By John Truby

This book has helped many writers understand the architecture of a great story. From creating multi-dimensional characters to developing a plot, Truby helps you to enhance your creativity and write better stories.

John Truby's Anatomy of Story book cover

15

Story Genius

By Lisa Cron

This book is perfect for writers looking to unlock their creative potential and approach writing in a whole new way. Cron’s approach to writing centres around the idea that our brains are wired for storytelling. So if you’re a writer struggling to put pen to paper, give Story Genius a read and see how it can transform your approach to writing.

Story Genius book cover
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Written By Eira Edwards

Eira is a writer and editor from the South of England with over five years of experience as a Content Manager, helping clients perfect their copy.

She has a degree in English Literature and Language, which she loves putting to work by working closely with fiction authors.

When she’s not working on manuscripts, you can find her in the woods with her partner and dog, or curling up with a good book.

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